Writing Research Exercise: monk protests - Lauren Cobb
During the Vietnam war, south vietnam was under the leadership of Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem’s religious policies heavily favored catholics and persecuted Buddhists. Buddhists appealed to the Diem regime to allow them to fly religious flags, end arbitrary arrests, give compensation and justice to the families of victims in Hue who were killed in a protest against the ban on religious flag, and grant them religious equality. Diem refused, banning demonstrations and attacking and arresting those who disobeyed. On June 11, 1963, a Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc finally faced the moment he had been preparing for for several weeks. Letters were sent to the south vietnamese government and the Buddhist community explaining his reasons for what he would do. On this date, Quang Duc sat in the lotus position in the street in downtown Saigon, South Vietnam, while two other monks poured gasoline over him. With a match he was set on fire and burned to death in minutes while onlookers watched in horror. Other buddhist monks and nuns ensured that no one interrupted the demonstration and a few even jumped in front of a fire truck. It was reported that witnesses sobbed, but Quang Duc did not make a single sound or movement as he burned. Although more protests like this followed, this was by far the most well known, and is considered the turning point that led to Diem’s assassination. The demonstration also changed many perspectives on the war even in the United States.